Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


"Three blind mice, three blind mice (inspectors) see how....."

     It amazes me, but there are some inspectors that do not use moisture meters.  While what we do is considered a "visual" inspection, the use of moisture meters can be like a seeing-eye-dog for the inspector as he or she otherwise goes "blindly" through the inspection.  Many water conditions give themselves away by a variety of means.  Sometimes they do not.  While I have not yet gotten on board with the use of infra-red cameras, Moisture meters can not only find conditions you can't see, but can also verify conditions that look suspicious.  (Someone may be able to convince me someday of the use of infra-red cameras---but for now I just don't think they fit the context of a "Standard Home Inspection"---even though they are very good at assessing these kinds of conditions.)

     "False positives" can be a problem with moisture meters--- and knowing the limitations and capabilities of any tool is paramount to the use of that tool.  I run my moisture meter all the way around every toilet; around all shower/tub fixtures---including built-in soap dishes and windows in showers/tubs; and, along the floor at tubs/showers.  I REALLY don't want to miss the opportunity to find moisture in these areas.  With unfinished basements and crawl spaces, these findings can be visually verified or backed up by moisture meter when I am in those areas.   Most finish ceiling materials under bathrooms above are not very "forgiving" of leaking fixtures in that bathroom and should be visually checked.  Signs of past leaking is common and can be verified as wet or dry by a moisture meter.

     One thing that everyone can watch for with vinyl floors is the telltale signs of moisture indicated by a blotchy discoloration that is caused by moisture affecting the back of the vinyl.   One can actually "see" the damage through the more translucent surface of the vinyl.  This picture is a great example of this kind of discoloration and indicative of considerable moisture under the vinyl---in this case a failed wax seal on the toilet.water in the floor














Charles Buell 

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Comment balloon 8 commentsCharles Buell • March 30 2008 09:20AM


eeeks!!!  When the DH & I were remodeling a house up in of the first we ever did...we ran into Black Mold behind the wall board in the shower.  Neither of us have ever been the same since.  The best mold detector I have is the DH.  Ever since that exposure...everytime he walks into a house that has mold...his head blows up like a balloon....maybe I should hire him out to Inspectors...kind of like termite finding dogs...LOL!  Great information Charles..thanks for sharing
Posted by Palm Coast Homes, Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co (100 Plus Realty LLC) about 11 years ago
Great post and good information, as a Realtor I'm not sure I would be comfortable with someone using infra-red cameras, can they register false positives etc?
Posted by Christopher Bonta, Realtor, Integrity and Honesty (The Bean Group) about 11 years ago

Great peice of info for even home owners who have been in a home for awhile and noticed the discolorization on there vinyl flooring. Thanks again.

The Craft Team

Serving Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and surrounding areas


Posted by The Craft Team - Realtors Serving Stafford & Spotsylvania Va. (Coldwell Banker Elite) about 11 years ago
Charles, Great info and advice.  I am in the market for a moisture meter and I am researching them now.  What make and model do you use and why do you like it so much?  I'm not to sure about IR either, VERY expensive!
Posted by David Holden, DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit (DRH Home Inspection Akron, Ohio Summit County Home Inspector) about 11 years ago

Kristi, thanks for the comments.

Christopher, interesting perspective on the IR cameras----I am used to hearing only what inspectors think:)

Craft Team, thanks for the comment

David, I use a Protimeter Surveymaster.  I really like it because of its dual function as a pin probe type meter as well as its "Sounding" capabilities on solid surfaces that you don't want to damage with the pins or that the pins couldn't penetrate.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago
VERY interesting!  It sure sounds like your inspection is comprehensive if you check for moisture around toilets, etc.  That is fantastic.  Looks like that bathroom has MANY issues!
Posted by Derek Bauer's, Door to Dreams Home Selling Team (Real Estate One) about 11 years ago
Charles. I always look for signs of water staining or damage before I pull out my moisture detector. I do get false positives on concrete oftentimes but rarely on wood or other similar materials. Dark stains on vinyl is a dead give-away of past or ongoing water issues.
Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 11 years ago

Derek, I don't consider it as much "comprehensive" as I do essential.

Michael, the old ceramic tiles under the vinyl are always good for false positives too:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 11 years ago